On July 7, 1779, nearly 2,500 British soldiers of His Majesties Crown Forces marched into Fairfield. The town’s people awoke to a warning shot from the fort at Black Rock, signaling that a British fleet was spotted off the coast. For two days, Fairfield was under British attack with troops burning virtually all of its buildings. This attack was one of three, which also included the cities of New Haven and Norwalk.
On Sunday, July 6, The Fairfield Museum and History Centers will hold its annual Burning of Fairfield Walking Tours running every half hour starting at noon. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for students. Advanced registration is required – online at FairfieldHistory.org or by calling 203-259-1598.
The tour, which brings to life this piece of Fairfield’s history, will include stops at various homes on or adjacent to the Historic Town Green with actors in period costume portraying prominent citizens, according to Walt Matis, Museum volunteer coordinator.
“We use actual letters and depositions from 1779,” Matis said. “These are the real words of Fairfield citizens and individuals who lived through the burning of Fairfield.”
During the attack, most of the center of the town was burned, including houses, barns, shops, schools, churches, and the courthouse. Fairfield militia men, hidden between the center of the town and the shore, fired on British troops as they marched up Beach Road, then fell back to Round Hill to organize their defenses. Colonel Samuel Whiting ordered men to tear up the bridge over Ash Creek to prevent the British from attacking Black Rock fort from behind. Ten Fairfield residents were killed, and it took years to recover from the destruction.
“Following the Burning of Fairfield in 1779, there was ongoing worry among citizens about a repeat attack,” said Matis. This concern eventually led to the construction of a Powderhouse in Fairfield, built during the war of 1812 and currently located behind the site of Tomlinson Middle School.
For more information, call 203-259-1598 or log on to FairfieldHistory.org.